5 On Your Side

Homeowners' association battles resident over house trim

Posted October 22, 2008 5:22 p.m. EDT
Updated October 17, 2011 10:23 a.m. EDT

— Homeowner Crystal Adu was told she was not welcome to use the amenities in her upscale, golf-course development because of the trim on her house.

Adu’s home has vinyl/aluminum trim that she had installed. The Chapel Ridge Homeowners' Association approved Adu’s plan, which clearly listed the vinyl trim.

Documents show that six months after it approved Adu's work, the association amended its guidelines to prohibit that kind of trim.

“So after they changed the restrictions, it seemed like they pretty much attacked us like a shark,” Adu said.

The Chapel Ridge community told the Adus to replace the trim, which would cost an estimated $18,000.

“I just don't think it's fair. I don't think it's ethical. I think it's unscrupulous business practices,” Adu said.

The homeowners' association also said the trim was installed improperly but would not specify what was wrong with it.

Adu hired an inspector, who said the trim was installed correctly.

Homeowners' association attorney Jennifer Andrews admits the association missed the trim in the plans, but said the group "can pursue aesthetic issues at their discretion."

Along with baring the Adus from the development's amenities, the association threatened to levy a lien and fines.

Adu said she already had been fined $500 twice for a different reason.

“My husband and I were working in our own yard prior to moving into our home on landscaping," Adu said. They drew "a nuisance fine for disrupting the neighborhood. Mind you, we were the only house on the street.”

Attorney Clark Brewer, who represents both homeowners' associations and homeowners, said that based on the state’s Planned Community Act, a homeowner cannot be fined more than $100 per incident.

Brewer said most neighborhoods with homeowners' associations require people to get approval to do anything to the exterior of their home, but he questions the trim violation alleged in Adu's case.

“I think the association is going to have a hard time trying to back up this decision or insisting that these people have to remove this product ... when the architectural committee made the original mistake,” Brewer said.

After 5 on Your Side got involved, Andrews said the homeowner’s association dropped the trim issue and reinstated the Adus' amenities.

Andrews also said the two $500 fines had been levied against the builder, Sam Lynch, not the Adus, and, therefore, the fines do not fall under the Planned Community Act. Brewer disputed that interpretation.

Andrews also blamed the controversy on Lynch. WRAL's calls to Lynch went unreturned Thursday.

Andrews said the association has inspected Adu's home and found that everything is in order.

Adu said she and her husband are thrilled, but she still thinks the situation as a whole was absurd.

“I called you all (5 on Your Side) because consumers need to be alerted to practices like this. I mean, I would have never imagined that I would be experiencing this kind of treatment – never in a million years,” Adu said.